Shock Descends Over Prudential Center
As Billy Lyell Defeats John Duddy

By Tim Donaldson
Photos: "Sugar" Ray Bailey

It definitely was not the night that John Duddy envisioned, and it was not the night that his fans expected either. The whole night was set up for Duddy and his fans, who were definitely in the majority. Irish flags were flying all over the arena. Between fights, a local band featuring bagpipes provided entertainment, adding to the party atmosphere. But that is where the party stopped for Duddy and his fans.

Billy Lyell did not come for a party. Billy Lyell came to fight.

Lyell’s intentions were obvious from the first round. He came out, throwing the first punch and dominating the action. The crowd, still optimistic, seemed to be of the opinion that this would not last long. Shouts were heard from the crowd that John need not worry because Billy is just scared. But the shock started to set in by the second round. Lyell was still the more active fighter. The only fear from his corner seemed to be that he might wear himself out.

Duddy, ever the calm fighter, came out in the third round and started out doing what he needed to do. He opened the round with a combination against Lyell. It seemed like it was going to be Duddy’s round. Then Lyell landed a punch that cut the left eye of Duddy and changed the course of the next two rounds. Lyell stayed aggressive in the fourth round, concentrating much of his effort on Duddy’s cut eye.

Duddy, however, was not out of the fight yet. He was able to dominate the fifth and sixth round. In the fifth, he cut the nose of Lyell, and he spent most of those two rounds landing the majority of his punches on Lyell’s face. Lyell was starting to show some wear at this point in the fight. But Duddy’s control of the fight was to slip through is gloves again. Duddy was the one looking tired in the seventh round.

The next three rounds, both fighters were going at it with everything they had left, which at times did not look like much. Lyell was staying aggressive, controlling the action through most of those final three rounds. Duddy had a brief period of dominance in the ninth round, but it was not enough. The tenth and final round saw two tired and bruised fighters come out to finish what they had started. In the end, Lyell won the split decision. Judges Kaczmarek and Stewart scored the fight in favor of Lyell, while Judge Lawrence scored the fight in favor of Duddy.

And it was during the reading of the decision that the shock really set in for the fans. There was no celebration as they exited the arena. Just quiet, stunned fans returning to their cars.